Article | Academy of Management Learning & Education | December 2011

Economics Education and Greed

by Long Wang, Deepak Malhotra and J. Keith Murnighan

Abstract

The recent financial crisis, and repeated corporate scandals, raise serious questions about whether a business school education contributes to what some have described as a culture of greed. The dominance of economic-related courses in MBA curricula led us to assess the effects of economics education on greed in three studies using multiple methods. Study 1 found that economics majors and students who had taken multiple economics courses kept more money in a money allocation task (the Dictator Game). Study 2 found that economics education was associated with more positive attitudes toward greed and toward one's own greedy behavior. Study 3 found that a short statement on the societal benefits of self-interest led to more positive ratings of greed's moral acceptability, even for noneconomics students. These effects suggest that economics education may have serious, albeit unintended consequences on our students' attitudes toward greed.

Keywords: Behavior; Ethics; Attitudes; Business Education; Economics;

Citation:

Wang, Long, Deepak Malhotra, and J. Keith Murnighan. "Economics Education and Greed." Academy of Management Learning & Education 10, no. 4 (December 2011): 643–660.